Brought to life from the verge of extinction, the dance form of Mohiniyattam thrives on its unique style, facial expressions, use of peculiar idioms and the melodious music of Kerala, informs Methil Devika, a renowned dancer who was in the city recently for a dance recital at the invitation of SPIC-MACAY (Society for Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth).
The Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi Awardee of 2011, Methil talks about Mohiniyattam and the increasing awareness amongst youngsters about the dance form. “Known previously as Kerala Nritya, Mohiniyattam is dance form that is young and vibrant as compared with other classical dances such as Bharatanatyam, Odissi and Kathak. It was revived some decades ago from the verge of extinction,” shares Methil, the vivacious and versatile doyenne of Mohiniyattam.
Hailing from Palakkad, Kerala, Methil is a gold medallist in MA (Dance) from Rabindra Bharti University, Kolkata and a gold medallist in MBA from University of Madras, and is currently pursuing a PhD degree in Mohinyattam from Bharathidasan University, Tamil Nadu. Methil is the winner of prestigious awards such as the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar (2008) and the National Award for Mohiniyattam from Kendra Sangeet Natak Akademy, New Delhi and has performed numerously in India and abroad.
Methil shares further information about the dance of Shingar Rasa (eroticism) and it’s rising, while drawing references from Bharat Muni’s Natya Shastra. “Mohiniyattam dance compositions are mostly descriptive of human relationships, love pangs, disappointment and agony of separation, joys of love, reunions — all effectively conveyed through dance movements,” says she, adding that an artist has to employ realism for swaying the audience.
Thanks to regular recitals of classical music and dance in the north, Methil says youngsters are now inquisitive about classical dances. “Even in the city, as I performed the ‘Krishna Prakriti’, a 14th century composition on the relation of Lord Krishna and nature for an audience of nearly 700 students at St Stephen’s School, inquisitive watchers put forth various questions especially after my second item, Baaj Rahi Bansuriya Nagri Mein,” adds the dancer, who is the director of Sripada Natya Kalari, Palakkad.
Methil exclaims that audience in foreign countries is more interested in Mohiniyattam. “Notwithstanding the fact that they are not well-versed with Indian mythological gods around whom the all dance compositions are weaved, they relish dance as a complete art form — an amalgamation of music, poetry, literature, rhythm and visual art,” says Methil.